What is the Gospel of the Kingdom?

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM?

 

MATTHEW 4v17&23; MARK 1v15.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

ILLUS.: We live in a most amazing world – and in an age of great achievement. A century ago no one could have foreseen  the comfort and prosperity in which we live – [ in the West that is!!].

 

When my Grandmother sailed to RSA as a child it took ±6 weeks – now under 12 hours in a great silver bird.

 

100 years ago life expectancy was much lower than today – the advances in medical science have been phenomenal in the last century..

 

Because of the car and modern areoplanes we can travel to see places that our grandparents only read about in story books.


Not to mention TV, Video, computers, microwave ovens, virtual reality – the age of the micro chip …..

 

It is truly an astounding age we live in – incredible advances in science and technology YET people still ask the basic questions? At least if they take the time to stop and think!! Many don’t take time to think – many live in a philosophical blackout never thinking about life or death or the meaning of life in general.  But there comes a time in life when things go wrong – a loved one dies!! Your dreams or goals collapse in a heap of ashes THEN the questions arise!!

What does it all mean? Where are we going? It there a goal toward which history is moving? Does mankind have a destiny? OR as one writer put it {G E Ladd}  ‘ do we jerk across the stage of time like wooden puppets, only to find the stage, the actors, and the theatre itself destroyed by fire, leaving a pile of ashes and the smell of smoke?”

The ancients longed for an ideal society – Plato talked of an ideal society organised along philosphical principles but he himself realised it was too idealistic to ever come true.

Virgil sang of a deliverer who would remove suffering from the earth and start time again!!

The Jewish and Christian faiths express themselves in terms of the Kingdom of God. It is the very heart of revealed religion – the biblical idea of the Kingdom of God is deeply rooted in the OT – it is not man’s idea but is an essential element of  God’s revelation.

Thus the prophets announced a time when men would live together in peace -a time when God shall:-

..shall judge between the nations

and shall decide for many peoples;

and they shall beat their swords into plough shears

and their spears into purning hooks;

nation will  not lift up sword against nation,

neither shall they learn war any more [Isa.2v4]

Not only will the problems of society be solved but the abuse of the physical enviroment will also come to an end.

The wolf will live with the lamb,

the leopard will lie down with the goat,

the calf and the lion and the yearling together,

and a little child will lead them.

The cow will feed with the bear,

their young will lie down together

and the lion will eat straw like an ox.

The infant will play near the hole of a cobra

and the young child put his hand into a viper’s nest.

They will neither harm not destroy on all my holy mountain,

for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea. [Isa..11v6-9]

Sounds idealic – peace, safety, security – all promised for the happy future.

The Jewish nation was oppressed by the Roman – they were smarting under foreign rule. They had a hope of a future glorious kingdom under Messiah’s rule – an idealic kingdom that would last forever.

Most saw it as going back to a golden age as they had experienced under King David.  A sovereign nation in charge of its own destiny, free from foreign domination.

It is against such a background of expectation and hope that the words of Jesus ring out – and it is hardly surprising that they caused a stir:-

The time has come.

The Kingdom of God is near.

Repent and believe the good news [Mark 1v15]

This theme of the coming Kingdom of God was central to Christ’s mission.

What we are doing this morning is taking a bird’s eye view of the NT teaching of the Kingdom of God – over the coming weeks we will return to many of these things in more details.

 

1. ASPECTS OF THE KINGDOM.

 

The Kingdom of God has many aspects to it. One of the dangers that the people of God have faced  is that of concentrating on one aspects to the exclusion of others.

INDIVIDUAL RELATIONSHIP TO GOD.

Some have seen it as being a very subjective relationship that an individual has with God.

THE CHURCH = THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

Some see the church as the kingdom of God. Thus as the Church grows the kingdom of God grows so we must get involved in missions and evangelism in order to establish God’s kingdom. Some go so far as to say that the mission of the Church is to win the whole world for Christ thus transforming it into God’s kingdom.

IDEAL SOCIAL ORDER.

Still others see that kingdom of God to be essentially an ideal human society. It was this kind of thinking that was behind the “Social Gospel”.  People build the kingdom of God as the work for an ideal society. They are not primarily concerned with individual salvation or with the future but with the social problems of the present. People build the KoG as they work for the ideal social order – trying to solve the problems of poverty, sickness, labour relations, social inequalities and race relations.

There is a bewildering diversity of interpretations about what the kingdom of God is.

All those we have mentioned above – individual; Church = kingdom; ideal social order; and others like the kingdom of God is only future….. – They all tell us some important aspect about the kingdom of God. BUT when we focus on one aspect of the kingdom of God to the exclusion of others we get a distorted view of God’s kingdom.

All these thoughts about the KoG are all very interesting but what does the Bible say -“Let’s get back to the Bible!!”

Well the central theme of Christ’s preaching and teaching was the KoG.

His teaching was designed to show people how they could enter the KoG

Unless your righteousness surpasses that

of the Pharisees and the teachers

of the law you will certainly NOT enter the

Kingdom of heaven [Matt.5v20

Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord!”

will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but

he who does the will of my father who is

in heaven [Matthew 7v21]

Jesus went about performing many miracles and mighty deeds to prove that the Kingdom of God had come upon them.

…if I [Jesus] drive out demons by the Spirit of God

then the kingdom of God has come upon you. [Matt.12v28]

The parables showed to his disciples truths about the Kingdom of God – truths that they could see which others, who were not Christ’s disciples couldn’t see. [Matt13v11].

When Jesus taught his disciple to pray – the heart of the prayer was this:-

“Your kingdom come. your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.”

Then at the last supper Jesus reassured his disciples that they would eat again with Him in his kingdom.

So what does all this lead to …….

> the KoG is a present spiritual reality.

You don’t have to wait until you die before you enter God’s Kingdom NOR is the KoG a physical place that you must travel to.

Paul says in Romans:-

For the kingdom of God is not eating or drinking

but righteousness, and peace and joy

in the Holy Spirit [Romans 14v17]

Righteousness and peace and joy are fruits of the Spirit which God gives to those who yield their lives to the rule of the Holy Spirit. These things have to do with the deep things of spiritual life and these aspects says Paul are the Kingdom of God as a present reality.

BUT

> the kingdom of God is an inheritence that God will give to His people when Christ comes again in glory.

Then the king will say to those on his right hand,

“Come O blesed of my Father, inherit the kingdom

prepared for you from the foundation of the world”

[Matthew 25v34]

How can it be something we have now and yet will inherit in the furture?

YET

> it is something which the follower’s of Jesus have entered now

God … has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness

and transferred us to the kingdom

of his beloved son [Col.1v13]

This makes it clear that the christian is already in the kingdom of God.

SUMMARY>  Because of the diversity of Biblical teaching on the KoG it is easy to see why so many different interpretations have arisen.

– it is a present reality YET it is a future blessing.

– it is an inner, spiritual individual salvation, which can be entered into

ONLY by being born again by the Spirit of God YET it will have to do

with the government of the nations of the world.

– it is a realm which people enter now YET it is a realm which they will

enter tomorrow.

– it is a gift that God will bestow in the furure YET something which is

received in the present.

2. THE ESSENCE OF THE KINGDOM.

 

We need to ask a fundamental question – “What does KINGDOM mean?”

ILLUS.: The United Kingdom of Great Britian and Northern Ireland are the group of countries that recognise Queen Elizabeth as their sovereign

In other words the REALM over which she rules.

A second meaning of kingdom is the people belonging to that particular realm.

The United Kingdom may be thought of as the citizens over which the Queen exercises her rule.

We tend to transfer these concepts to the spiritual realm – there is a body of people who are worshippers of God [ we limit this to the church usually] and Christ is the head. This makes God’s kingship dependent upon having a people to rule over???

NO! The KoG in scripture always emphasises to God’s reign, rule, sovereignty and NOT the realm over which it is exercised.     (Although it includes that, but it is not the emphasis.)     This is vital to the understanding of the kingdom of God. If we don’t grasp this principle we will never understand the KoG.

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,

his kingdom rules over all.  [Ps. 103v19]

Not he rules BUT his KINGDOM rules!!

Daniel in speaking of the coming Messiah says:-

You O King, the king of kings, to whom God has given

the kingdom, the power, the might and the glory. [Dan. 2v37]

Notice the synonyms used for kingdom – power, might, glory. All expressions of authority.

ILLUS.: Also in Daniel we read of Belshazzar, the Babylonian King:-

God has numbered the days of your kingdom

and brought it to an end. [Daniel 5v26]

The Babylonian realm and people were not brought to an end – they were transferred to another ruler.  It was the rule of the king that was terminated and given to king Darius the Mede.

In Luke 19 we are given a very clear inside into the meaning of kingdom in the NT.

A nobleman went into a distant country

to have himself appointed king and then return [NIV – luke 19v12]

BUT [lit.]

A certain nobleman went to a far country

 to receive for himself a KINGDOM.

He did not go there to collect a few people and a piece of land to bring back.

The territory over which he was to rule was the place he left – The problem for this nobleman was that he was not a king. He needed authority, the right to rule.

He went to get a “kingdom” ie. Kingship, authority.

The kingdom of God is his kingship, his rule, his authority.

The meaning of the KoG in the NT becomes evident when we grasp this principle.

Jesus said we must receive the KoG as ‘little children’  [Mk.10v15]

What do we receive? The church? Heaven ? What is received is God’s rule!! God’s authority over our lives.

In order to receive the Kingdom of God you must submit to God’s rule in the here and now.

It is because God is King and because he rules that he has created for himself a realm and a people over which to rule.

The Good news [gospel] which Jesus came preaching was that God’s rule had come in the person of Christ.

He showed his sovereignty by exercising power over nature, demons, disease, death and people. The right to forgive sin.

That is why he could say “The KoG is among you” because the king had come!!

That is why he taught us to pray

“Your kingdom come your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven”

We want God to manifest his kingly authority and put to flight all enemies of righteousness, that he alone will be God and king over all the world.

This prayer gives us confidence that God’s kingdom will come in its fullest sense. He will wrap up history – knowing this helps us kept a sense of balance and sanity in this mad world in which we live. A world full of confusion, suffering and injustice. Thank God that his Kingdom has come and is coming and will fill all the earth.

When we pray this pray “Your kingdom come”  we are also asking God’s will to be done here and now, today. We want to meet the kingdom of God now in love and mercy rather than at the judgement. May more people turn to your Kingdom like little children –

We are praying “Your kingdom come, your will be done” in my church as it is in heaven. The life and fellowship of the church ought to be a fellowship of people among whom God’s will is done – a bit of heaven on earth!!

As a church at Binscombe we need to be constantly praying for God’s will to be done – we do – but we must continue!! It is all to easy to have the machinery of organisation up and running and think we are okay and to miss God’s will!

“Your kingdom come, your will be done” in my life as it is in heaven.

Is the agenda for your life – God’s agenda?

ILLUS.: You can be a British citizen and hold a British passport but live outside the commonwealth and have nothing what ever to do with the Queen or Britian.

Not so with God’s Kingdom – being a Christian is not a passport to heaven!! It is a daily living in the presence of the king who loves you but who also expects, demands submission and obedience to his kingly rule.

Jesus said:-

“The time has come! The kingdom of God is near.

Repent and believe the good news”

Repent and believe the good news!! Have you???

If you have, can you pray meaning to obey  “Your will be done”  IN MY LIFE  “as it is in heaven” ?

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